Fleet News

Renault Modus



AT first glance, there seems little to connect the new Renault Modus with Concorde, the recently mothballed icon of supersonic travel.

One is an affordable supermini MPV offering low emissions, perky performance and a top speed of about 100mph, while the other is a multi-billion pound engineering triumph, which consumed one tonne of fuel just to take off and could hit Mach Two.

But look more closely and there are clear similarities when it comes down to the clever packaging that is crammed into both projects, albeit at different extremes.

So Concorde had its famous drooping nose and also special elastic paint, because the heat of supersonic travel would expand the fuselage by up to eight feet.

Despite a relative lack of space inside, cabin crew were able to serve up high-quality meals on china plates, while passengers were cosseted in £4,000 seats.

The Modus is rather more modest, but offers segment firsts, including a boot chute and ‘Triptic’ rear bench and a number of clever stowage solutions throughout the car.

In fact, if you compare luggage capacity per person for luggage for Concorde and Modus, they would be pretty evenly matched.

It was in the shadow of the first Concorde built for commercial flight that Renault offered its first drive of the new right-hand drive Modus.

Despite is being a relatively new segment, it is already becoming crowded, with competitors from Vauxhall, offering the Meriva, Fiat’s Idea, Honda’s Jazz and Ford’s Fusion.

All bid to offer maximum versatility in the minimum footprint. It already has an important bargaining point, with its recent five-star Euro-NCAP rating.

Prices for the four specification level, 24 model line-up, which went on sale on September 10, range from £9,250 to £12,400 on-the-road (just £300 more than the Clio five-door).

There are three petrol engines of 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6 litres and a choice of 1.5 litre, 65bhp and 80bhp diesel engines.

Trim levels start at Authentique, which offers ABS, emergency brake assist, front airbags, electric front windows, 60/40 sliding rear seat, remote central locking and a cassette player.

Expression adds curtain airbags, body-coloured bumpers, electric heated door mirrors added lighting, height adjustment for the driver’s seat and a CD player.

Moving to Dynamique brings added equipment including 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, leather steering wheel and gear knob, while Privilege adds automatic front windscreen wipers, automatic headlamps, air conditioning, electric rear windows and upgraded stereo.

But clever design is fitted as standard, including a very simple mechanism for releasing the spare wheel, just by pulling on a wire.

The Triptic rear seats move fore and aft by 170mm so you can offset rear leg space against boot space.

With the seats right back, luggage space is 198 litres, rising to 274 litres with the seats fully forward. Folding the seats raises space to 621 litres. Optional extras bring more versatility, including the boot chute. The tailgate opens like a traditional hatchback, but within it is a separate panel, hinged at the bottom, which can be opened to access the boot in tight spaces.

Unfortunately it doesn’t open flat, to act as a seat, but this would have required additional strengthening to serve this purpose.

Drivers can also opt for Velofix, a bike rack attachment which can be slotted into the adapted rear bumper. It can hold two bicycles, while still allowing access to the boot chute if fitted.

Other options include tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability programme, cornering headlights, which turn with the steering wheel.

Behind the wheel

A FIRST look at the Modus in the shadow of a Concorde parked at Manchester airport only served to highlight how much is packed into so little.

Based on the same platform as the Nissan Micra, it manages to retain the look of a supermini, despite its mini-MPV package.

A quick test of the boot chute proved it to be a useful feature for dropping in or retrieving items from a tight parking space.

Moving to the back seats, the process of moving the bench forward feels quite fiddly, although after a few tries, it becomes second nature. With an average-sized driver and passenger in the front seat and the rear bench right back, it feels more spacious than an average supermini.

But push the bench forward to free up boot space and it becomes cramped, especially if a taller driver is in the front.

For a driver, the experience is very pleasant, with a nice dashboard layout, including a funky central console containing all the information you need.

Plastics are hard, but not cheap and switches easily click into place, but the panel around the ventilation controls creaked and squeaked when pressed.

On the road, the clutch and gearchange in all models is light, while noise levels are well suppressed. Body roll around corners is well controlled, while wind and road noise are quiet at most speeds.

Engines on test are the 1.4 and 1.6 petrol and the 1.5 80bhp diesel.

The 1.4 needs to be pushed hard to keep up with traffic, but becomes intrusive over 4,000rpm, yet offers a good blend of economy and refinement. It is expected to share best-seller status with the diesel and is the quieter of the two at motorway speeds, despite having to work harder.

Although the diesel majors on economy, the waves of torque I was hoping for are absent, meaning it has to work as hard as the petrol in traffic.

However, the 1.6-litre seems to offer little in addition to either, making the 1.4 the most likely choice for lower mileage drivers.


A WELL-rounded package for user-choosers looking for something more versatile than a supermini, without moving up to a larger vehicle. Nice design touches should be an added attraction for drivers.

Engine (cc): 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.5 dCi 1.5 dCi
Max power (bhp/rpm): 75/5,500 98/5,700 113/6,000 65/4,000 80/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 77/4,250 94/4,250 111/4,250 118/2,000 136/2,000
Max speed (mph): 101 110 117 97 104
0-62mph (sec): 13.5 11.4 10.3 15.9 13.4
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 47.1 42.2 41.5 60.1 61.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 145 161 163 125 122
Prices (OTR): from £9,240 - £12,400

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

Renault Clio E-Tech first drive | new hybrid is a better fleet choice

The addition of a hybrid powertrain has made the Clio an even more convincing fleet offering.

Fiat 500e first drive | the new leader of the small EV pack

By developing the car from the ground up to be an EV, Fiat has managed to avoid some of the packaging and driveability compromises experienced in some other cars.

Search Car Reviews